I’m now my own landlady.
With these words, 29-year-old Elsie Radebe took occupancy of her new and modern two-bedroom family unit in the former single-sex City Deep Hostel that has been redeveloped at a cost of R200-million by the Johannesburg Social Housing Company (JOSHCO).
JOSHCO is the City of Johannesburg’s social housing entity
Radebe was at a loss for words as she surveyed her new home after she and her wheelchair-bound husband received their keys to the unit from Johannesburg Member of the Mayoral Committee for Housing Councillor Dan Bovu on Tuesday September 1.
Radebe was one of the hundreds of residents who started a new life at the recently redeveloped hostel, which for years used to house adult black male migrant workers under apartheid’s discriminatory and unjust housing policy.
“We’re reversing all that,” MMC Bovu said, describing the redevelopment of the City Deep Hostel as another major step towards “the total phasing out of the hostel system in the city”.
He said the apartheid system had dehumanised people by accommodating them in filthy single-sex hostels.
“The City Deep Hostel redevelopment is a perfect example of how we’re assisting to rebuild those family structures, which are important building blocks of any strong and resilient nation,” MMC Bovu said.
Of critical importance, MMC Bovu added, was that JOSHCO-managed properties were located where people wanted to live. The properties were also of excellent quality and appearance, which made people proud to live there. A total of 328 units – 216 two-bedroom family dwellings and 112 one-bedroom flats – were handed over to the new tenants.
Tenants occupying the two-bedroom units will pay R2 000 a month rent, whereas those living in one-bedroom flats will part with R900 a month. The project was launched by Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau in December 2014. Another elated new tenant, mother-of-two Charmaine Gregory, said it was a pleasure to finally have a house big enough for her children.
“For the first time in their lives my children, aged five and three, will have their own bedroom,” she said.
The social housing project is a perfect example of a centralised housing development located close to mass public transportation corridors. The development – which has won the Southern Africa Housing Foundation's Best Social Housing Project award – is surrounded by excellent roads, pedestrian walkways, garden and public amenities.
Ward 57 Councillor Faeeza Chame said the project was a clear sign that the city was moving forward in terms of building integrated housing settlements. She said it pained her to see so many people sleeping in the streets. This project, Councillor Chame said, was a milestone in addressing housing challenges in the city.
Section 79 Committee member Councillor Phineas Madisha said the project was a validation of the City’s vision to create sustainable human settlements.
“We know we sometimes get heavily criticised but this project has all the hallmarks of silencing even our worst critics. There were some delays about this development but the results are here for all to see – quality all round,” he said.